Closing a circle

Alekos Alavanos’s speech at the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) congress that began on Thursday, summed up his politics, but also revealed a Left that is changing and asserting a role in the public sphere. Not only did the outgoing party chief refocus on the Left being a pivotal part of government, but he also gave the movement an historic target by telling supporters that the party could draw the post-dictatorship era to a close. Can it? SYRIZA (or Synaspismos as it was called at the time) emerged 15 years after the fall of the dictatorship, a period coinciding with the political turmoil of 1989 on the one hand and the collapse of real existing socialism on the other. For the divided Greek Left, its collapse was painful. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) is still mourning and Synaspismos experienced the nadir of introversion as it scraped by with just 3 percent of votes every four years. Over the past three years, under Alavanos’s leadership, we have watched SYRIZA grow and seen it attract new blood, listening to the demands of society and detaching itself from the shortsighted communist vision of KKE. SYRIZA today appears to be carving out policies that are both more radical and more realistic. High on its agenda today is democracy in daily life, the environment and unemployment among the country’s youth rather than heaven-sent socialism. These are the issues of concern to Greek society and they gave the party 5 percent of the vote in the last elections. As long as SYRIZA is not just heralding an abstract revolution and continues to propose sensible reforms and goals, it will also continue to advance. And any success it does achieve will not be a success of the Left, but a success shared with Greek society as a whole, a society trundling along without compass or faith, but solely on its own